New Director of the Anglican Center in Rome and Rowan Williams
The Anglican Communion News Service has a completely surreal article today that derserves examination as it could not get the Vatican more WRONG. The Article reads that Vatican’s concern for Anglican unity as greater than the Vatican’s concerns for the issues now before the Communion, homosexuality and WO. Here is the opening of the article:
Some in the Anglican Communion may have found themselves a little irritated by the amount of rhetoric that has issued from the Vatican in recent weeks on the divisions facing the church. The Anglican Representative of the Archbishop of Canterbury in the Holy See, the Very Revd David Richardson, says that instead, the concerns of the Roman Catholic Church should be taken as a very positive reminder that the unity of the church is God’s will.
While the Pope was in Australia celebrating World Youth Day, he urged the Anglican Church to avoid schism, and Cardinal Dias warned in his address to the Lambeth Conference about the dangers of disunity to evangelism.
“My take on it at this stage,” says Revd Richardson, “is that there is a lot of investment from the Roman Catholic Church in the Anglican Church cohering, for a whole range of reasons … the last thing they want to see is a church structurally split.” Schism, from the point of view of the Roman Catholic Church was therefore, he said, “a really much more serious issue than the discipline or moral theological issues with which we’re wrestling.”
Let’s check this interpretation of the Vatican’s message against what the Vatican and its emmissaries have actually said. Cardinal Dias directly addressed Lambeth’s bishops in these words which came just before the typical pious Marian closing of the address:
Much is spoken today of diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. By analogy, their symptoms can, at times, be found even in our own Christian communities. For example, when we live myopically in the fleeting present, oblivious of our past heritage and apostolic traditions, we could well be suffering from spiritual Alzheimer’s. And when we behave in a disorderly manner, going whimsically our own way without any co-ordination with the head or the other members of our community, it could be ecclesial Parkinson’s.
Hmmmm. These are not the words of a man unconcerned about doctrine or proper church order. Rather, the Catholic Church has several doctrinal concerns about Anglicanism. The Church needs partners, not more adversaries in the culture wars. The Church is always gladdened by the teaching of the truths of the Gospel. A false image of the Gospel is always to held in contempt. Lastly, the Church is reluctant to let go of an ecumenical partner, but is willing to do so that the Gospel of Christ be better served.
The better interpretation of the Vatican is that it is preparing for Anglicans to come home to Rome.
The concluding prayer of the address was this:
Lead, kindly Light, amid th’encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home:
Lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet: I do not ask to see the distant scene:
One step enough for me.
These are the words of Cardinal John Newman who is expected to be beatified in the coming months and who left Anglicanism precisely because of its uncertain ground as a moral teaching authority. If there is a message about unity in this address, it is that unity is found in Rome.